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14 A Musical Interlude

    Kateri's visit to Sam interrupted an argument. Sam openly pouted at her mother, an unusual occurrence. When Kateri inquired what was toward, Sam and Lady Amberley told her that there was to be a musical event which Sam, having heard one of the ladies who was to sing, sing before, was extremely resistant of attending.

    "I wish I could go in your place," Kateri said wistfully.

    Suddenly realizing that she was complaining of a torment that her friend regarded as a treat, Sam relented, and said to her mother, "I'm sorry, even though I don't wish to attend, I will, you're right. Mrs. Hartwell has invited us to many fun amusements, and it would indeed be churlish of me to refuse to attend one I don't like. But do you think we might take Kateri with us?"

    Lady Amberley allowed that she thought Emily Hartwell would not grudge an extra guest, but said that they'd send a note around to make sure.

    Kateri was so delighted by the prospect that her enthusiasm infected Sam, and it was with true good grace that she attended to the necessary preparations. Kateri went home to her grandmama's to inform Lady Norwen of the plan, and to bathe and dress.

    When the Amberley carriage arrived, Sam bounced out and up the steps. Kateri was collected under the amused and tolerant auspices of the elderly Mr. Worthing, who had, he felt, answered the door more in the past few weeks than in the past few years. He rather enjoyed the extra activity that having a young person in the house entailed.

    Kateri was dressed in the rose silk laid beneath the silvershot muslin. Miss Bobbins had piled her hair high and caught it in a lacy bandeau. Gold ringlets fell over the edge of the bandeau in carefully ordered disorder. Sam thought Kateri looked like a small fashion plate.

    Shortly after their arrival at the musical event, the Marques Waverly also arrived. He was looking exceptionally splendid thought Kateri. He was exquisitely dressed, with a waistcoat that reflected the colour of his eyes.

    Catching sight of her, Lord Waverly made his way to her side. He greeted the young ladies, and Lady Amberley. Kateri expressed her surprise at seeing him, and he regretfully replied that he was just here for a moment. "I had accepted the invitation, but a pressing matter calls me away," he explained.

    Kateri commented upon his appearance, "You look exceptionally fine tonight, and that colour suits you exceedingly well," she enthused.

    Lord Waverly regarded her a moment and bestowed a wicked grin. Raising her hand to his lips he replied, "My dear, were it not for my promise, I should claim that my appearance tonight was wrought entirely for your benefit."

    Kateri flushed, but replied quite reasonably, "You had no way of knowing I'd attend, for I didn't know I'd attend, and I'm only here due to Sam's kindness."

    Lord Waverly's mouth quirked up and he replied, "Then surely I would have protested that fate meant us to meet tonight. You are looking exceptionally lovely," he added.

    Kateri, a little confused by his use of tenses, and flattered by the compliment offered a small curtsey and replied, "If you had said such a thing?" She glanced up at him uncertainly, and he nodded. "Then I'd have complained that when fate becomes involved, tragedy seems to follow."

    He looked down at her in surprise. It was an unwontedly serious answer, and he was uncertain how to take it. In the end he simply smiled at her, kissed her fingertips once more, and excused himself to go and inform their hostess that he wouldn't be staying.

    Lady Amberley frowned after him, for she'd found the conversation a little strange. "What promise?" she asked Miss Norwen.

    Kateri, who'd been watching the Marques leave, looked at Lady Amberley with blank puzzlement. Lady Amberley was obliged to expand the question, "Lord Waverly said that except for his promise he would have spoken to you in the overly effusive manner in which he spoke to you?" Sam chuckled at this convoluted inquiry.

    Kateri flushed and told the Amberley ladies of Lord Waverly's promise to his friends. Sam looked after the departed Marques with a contemplative expression. She wondered if the conversation had indicated that he was near intending to court her friend seriously, or if the qualifiers meant that he was still just playing with her.

    Kateri enjoyed the musical so much that Sam also enjoyed it, even the horrible singer that she'd dreaded. For Kateri whispered to her, "I'm afraid the windows behind her may shatter at any moment, truly I never imagined that such a voice existed outside of a story book!"

    The girls laughed and watched with such evident pleasure that the singer strove to produce a truly grand performance. She would have been gratified to know that the Amberley party would never forget her performance, but chagrined to know how well they regarded it.

    --

    The season picked up, and Kateri's days in London became a whirl of activity. She felt occasionally that she only ever saw Sir Blackwell by chance, and when she did, he seemed often in the company of the lovely Contessa. She had at last ruefully acknowledged to herself that she was at least halfway in love with him. For she always longed to see him again, and whenever they did meet, found herself wishing she could kiss him again.

    But she liked him well enough that she wished him to be happy, and the Contessa seemed to Kateri to be all the things that could make him so, wealthy, beautiful, and surprisingly kind. So instead she paid careful attention to every man who showed interest in her, and did her best to consider whether or not she might be able to become more fond of this one or that one.

    If she felt that she only met Sir Blackwell by chance, this feeling was a near certainty in the case of the Marques Waverly. When they did meet, he either treated her cordially or flirted outrageously, but Kateri was nearly certain that he never sought her out. Certainly he never called for her at her grandmama's house.

    Sir Blackwell did call upon the Norwen household occasionally, and they generally went riding together every couple of weeks.

    Sam's quiet romance proceeded slowly and with quiet regularity, for she had the advantage in that Captain Andrew Matheson often escorted his niece and her grandmama, or his niece and Sam to this or that excursion or assembly. Though they never spoke so openly of the matter again, Andrew did begin to consider Sam as she'd asked, and paid careful attention to her when they were together. Sam, if asked though, would have shared Kateri's complaint, in that Andrew never sought her out outside of these meetings.
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